Thursday, January 05, 2006

Greed: In A Different Light

The tired cliché that life is short so make the most of it is one among a few bromides that graying individuals are inadvertently assaulted with when pondering and planning for the ensuing years after employment. Family members, relatives, close friends, busybodies, or even casual acquaintances, in their mistaken eagerness to say the right things sometimes trip over themselves advising dear uncle, dear dad, dear grandpa or grandma, etc. to start living life more fully the minute retirement frenzy simmers down.

Once veteran parents pull back from outside employment, casual conversations around family gatherings typically revolve around endearingly-intentioned recommendations to the recently idled individuals to speed up life’s pace before Father Time catches up and physical activities could be greatly curbed due to the inevitable downward spiral of physical and mental health brought on by incalculable stress and time.

Travel around the world and visit exotic places typically seen only in glossy brochures, and colorful TV adventure programs. Gorge on all those exotic foods those places boast about in their travelogues. Soak the sunshine on those gorgeous beaches, idling away the days and afternoons sipping wine and fingering dainty hors d’oeuvres. Waste not a moment without indulging those tired bodies with hedonistic pleasures fit for the ancient demigods.

One is quite sure that one in the threshold between work life and own life has heard at one time or another statements like the above.

As one who is not really overly fond of exotic places, or long travels, and not really enticingly attracted to strange food, I always feel ill at ease being at the receiving end of such a barrage . At times making me feel downhearted and consumed by perceived naiveté on the question what life really is all about.

One can't help sense a deep feeling of unfulfilled longings, having been accused by inference of letting life pass one by, of laying waste nature’s bountiful offerings laced with alluring hedonistic attractions. A life quite unexamined and thus wasted and fruitless. Fit to be axed at the roots and to be burned to embers?

After a while one grows the compelling impulse to re-examine one’s priorities and purposes in life.

Am I really remiss in dismissively shunting aside all these well-intentioned recommendations as balderdash? Or are they simply snippets of taken-for-granted conventional wisdom, and thus easily rebuttable?

Lo and behold. After some gut-wrenching introspection, one inevitably is gifted by some unknown higher power with some bright discerning moments

What we have here may be a subtle but hidden strain of greed (and gluttony), cleverly disguised as to appear well within the bounds of living a good life. Greed taking on new dimension and meaning.

We normally associate greed with acute and over-indulging yearnings and inordinate accumulation of material goods (and gluttony as exorbitant attachment and proclivity to food, usually beyond normal satiation).

And digging some more, might not greed and gluttony apply also to other aspects of human life, like say the accumulation of human experiences? The inordinate and frenzied pursuits of life experiences?

As a species we do have an almost innate propensity to hurry and rush head-on through life. Adolescents cannot wait becoming older and be soaked with the more daring experiences of adult life. We are forever finding ourselves hurrying on everything we plan and do. And we rush so we could plan and do more. In the process, we constantly are finding ourselves behind schedules, which bring on more hurrying to be able to keep up.

Life is forever one big rush after another. Sometimes we wish we were Superman, or at least the Flash.

Thus, might not some form of insipient greed be involved in this very noticeable mad scramble to experience and accumulate all the possible activities that life could offer during our short sojourn here?

And for what lasting and worthwhile reasons?